Beijing: Japan has donated USD 5.2 million to China for the protection of a rare bird species found in that country, the state-run media said today.
The Japanese International Cooperation Agency donated 35 million yuan to a Crested Ibis protection project sponsored by the China State Forestry Administration, the report said.
Zhang Hongyan, deputy director of the administration`s International Cooperation Department, said that the protection project is a model of friendly cooperation between the two countries.
The project was officially launched in Xi`an, capital of northwest China`s Shaanxi Province today.
Once common in Japan, China, Russia and the Korean Peninsula, zoologists thought the crested ibis became extinct in the first half of the 20th century. But in 1981, seven crested ibis were found in Shaanxi`s Yangxian County.
Due to conservation efforts, the number of crested ibis in China has risen to an estimated 1,617, including 997 in the wild, according to administration statistics.
The forestry official said the Japanese funds will be used to release captive birds into the wild in Shaanxi and central China`s Henan Province.
Since 2008, the Chinese government has paid 2 million yuan to farmers to compensate them for living in the areas were the bird is protected. A farmer said his family receives more than 400 yuan per year in compensation.
Yan Xun, a wildlife protection official told Xinhua news agency that under the Sino-Japanese project, work is done to help people and the birds live together in harmony.
China presented a pair of the birds to Japan during Chinese President Jiang Zemin`s visit to Japan in 1998.Another three of the birds were later given as gifts to Japan.